Making a Will When Owning a Property

by Mark Johnston

There are many good reasons to make a will and every adult should have a will, but it is even more essential if they are buying a property or if they already own one. Although making a will it is not a legal requirement.

Once a person owns a property they have an asset that is likely to increase in value and with out a will there is no guarantee that it will automatically pass to their immediate family upon their death.

There are lots of good financial reasons for making a will:

–          you can decide how your assets are shared out

–          if you are not married your partner will not automatically inherit, therefore you can make sure they are provided for

–          you can make sure you do not pay more inheritance tax than necessary

Along with the property itself most home owners also have either endowment policies, ISA’s or other insurance policies that are linked to their mortgage and so a will is the only way to properly ensure that the proceeds of these policies are properly directed.

Property can be jointly owned in one of two ways. The joint owners can own the property as ‘joint tenants’ or as ‘tenants in common’.

Tenants in common mean that each party owns all of the property equally and is therefore free to leave their share of the property to who ever they wish.

Joint tenants mean that each party owns a specific share of the property. Upon death of one of the owners their share is passed automatically to the other joint tenant, even if the owner has made a will leaving their share of the property to another person.

Although it is possible and legal to write a will by yourself, unless everything is simple and straightforward, it is highly advisable to use a solicitor as there are various legal requirements that need to be followed to make sure the will is valid. The cost of making a will varies according to its complexity.

Some of these legal formalities are:

–          it must be in writing

–          it must be signed and witnessed

–          you must be over 18 years old

–          you must have the mental capacity to understand the effect it will have

–          it must not have been made as a result of pressure from someone else

By not preparing a will property owners would inevitably cause dificultiy for those they leave behind in a time that is already distressing for them.

Those left to deal with a persons assets with out the help of a will are often faced with many problems, not only because they may not be aware of how share the assets, but also legal problems. Disputes over assets can ultimately drive families apart.

This can therefore lead to delays in the next of kin gaining access to the estate and mean that they may have to pay for the funeral from their own funds and there is also the possibility that they would have to pay inheritance tax before they receive any assets, a problem which leads to financial hardship.

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